University of Alabama commit Holden Smith has decided to take a gap year after high school and plans to enroll at Alabama in the fall of 2022. Smith originally committed to Alabama in the fall of 2019, and will finish high school in the spring of 2021.
“After much consideration and recommendation from my coaches and swim mentors, I have decided to reclassify to the class of 2022 and to take a gap year prior to going to college and competing at the NCAA level,” Smith told SwimSwam on Saturday. “This will allow me to catch up with other swimmers my age and to further develop myself both physically and mentally prior to college. I want to thank my dad and other coaches and all of the many mentors who have advised me in this decision process. At this stage I am still unsure of where I will be training during my gap year but I have some amazing opportunities that I am really excited about!”
Smith’s dad, Kenneth Smith, tells SwimSwam that this plan has been in place since before the global coronavirus pandemic halted swimming for most of the world, but that the current conditions and uncertainty has made the decision feel more validated.
With an April birthday, Smith is on the younger end of his class.
Smith, who attends St. Xavier High School in Louisville and trains with the Race Pace Club, is primarily a butterflier, IMer, and sprint freestyler. Since his commitment, he’s already gone lifetime bests in all of his primary events.
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Smith also split 21.59 in the 50 fly on St. Xavier’s winning 200 medley relay at the 2020 Kentucky High School State Championship meet. He won 4 state titles in 4 swims at that meet, including individual wins in the 200 IM and 100 fly, and as the leadoff leg of the winning 400 free relay (where his best time from above was swum). St. Xavier were the runaway state champions, scoring 592 points: more than double the runners-up from Highlands High School (193 points).
With Smith’s arrival at Alabama now 2 years away, it’s harder to project what the program will look like upon his arrival. The Alabama men finished 4th at last year’s SEC Championship meet, which was a 2-place improvement over the 2019 championships. That jump in performance came in the team’s first season under new head coach Coley Stickels.